The project ‘A Touch of Venus’ has developed 20 planetary science resource kits which include a 3D tactile model of planet Venus from NASA’s Magellan data and a book of educational activities with additional helping elements (snapshots of the model to identify some features on it easily, a measuring lace to find features by touch on the model and a carry bag that can be also used as a cloth in two of the activities).The kit focused on two main audiences: people with normal vision and people who are visually impaired, a community otherwise neglected in many instances due to lack of resources in science. Although the intended main target audience were children, the kit has been enjoyed by the general public as well.
A prototype of the globe was first developed, printed and field tested by the project members to achieve a high quality educational product, with which the public could touch the Venus surface for an immersivelearning experience. After that we produced 20 sets of the tactile Venus globe, the activity book, the Venus map, the measuring laces and the bags to carry everything.The project coordinators identified then 20 hubs around the world with teachers and outreach professionals who wished to carry out workshops locally with both visually impaired and normal vision kids. With the feedback from the 20 hubs, a final online version of the kit has been made available under the H2020 Programme guidelines on open access where the content is published under CC-BY giving a wider accessibility.The users feedback has been very positive and the kit has been used with people from very different social backgrounds, rural and urban areas, all ages and genders and both with or without vision impairments. Several of the teachers who received the kit have pointed out how it is extremely useful also with kids who have no visual impairments.
Audience: We directly targeted 20 teachers/outreach officers around the world. We have received feedback about the number of people reached from only 5 of them, who reported having used the kit with more than 12300 people in total: Argentina & Chile: more than 330 Europe (several cities): more than 1500 Chile: 836 Italy: more than 3000 Ethiopia: more than 1000
Activities: We produced the digital 3D file and the rest of the contents of the kit at the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Valencia. The model was printed by AIJU in Spain. The Activity Book was printed by TactileGraphics Europe, in Spain too.
Several activities were conducted by the teachers/outreach officers in their countries.
1. Venus tactile globe 2. Activity book in Braille and normal printing with some suggestions on how to use the Venus globe 3. Document with snapshots of the digital model with the names of some surface features 4. Measuring lace, 28cm long, with knots every 7 cm that helps measure distances on the globe by touch and also visually, that can be used to locate interesting places on the surface of the model
Download at: https://astrokit.uv.es/downloads.html
5. A bag to carry the globe and activity book around 6. A video tutorial to learn how to use the Venus globe. The video tutorial is available both at the “A Touch of the Universe” website and at the University of Valencia Astronomical Observatory’s You Tube channel.
Challenges and Recommendations:
– The main challenge is, again, getting the feedback from the kit recipients. Could consider giving an incentive
– Another challenge is that there are not many people who can read Braille specially in rural areas. It would be good to add an audio version of the activity book so blind people who cannot read Braille can still listen to the activities proposed.